17 Years of Hardship
April 11, 2020

17 Years of Hardship

Born into a loving Italian family, I was a timid, sweet child. My parents and siblings were nothing but devoted and supportive with me. Deeply involved in our upbringing, they cared so much about family in the very Italian way. We gathered around the table with good food and much conversation. I was the youngest, the baby of the family, and I was very loved.

I had an extreme sense of sensitivity toward the world and what was happening around me. I felt it all very deeply, wholeheartedly. What people were feeling, I felt more acutely. I felt 10 times more deeply. It was an overwhelming sense of all the emotions and feelings around me.

My essays in school were very heavy. Teachers noticed their intensity. I was an emotional child. Both my mom and my grandma suffered from anxiety, so maybe it was simply a matter of genetics. 

My name is Sara Meucci, and this is My Kintsugi Story

By the time I was nine years old, I was experiencing depression and did not know it. It came to a point that every little thing stressed me. For instance, I didn’t like going to school, not because I didn’t like studying, but because I didn’t like the imposition. I didn’t like how it was channeled through me. 

Always my escape, piano became something I dreaded. I was a strong piano player, really gifted. Once they started with conservatory and other obligations, it was no longer something I cherished. My parents didn’t know I was depressed. They thought I was a very introverted child. My situation continued for a while without any intervention.

At age 11, I started showing physical signs of depression. I began plucking my hair. It started with my eyelashes. It progressed to my eyebrows. At first, my parents didn’t notice but when they did, they were shocked.  They saw something was strange about my face, but they didn’t know what it was. They called my uncle, who is a doctor. He sent me to a therapist. This was my first therapist of what would be around 14 or 15.

Trichotillomania Diagnosis

My uncle said to us, “At least she is not plucking the hair from her head." A light bulb went on. “Oh, I can also pluck from my hair.” So, I began plucking the hair from my head in addition to the rest. From this moment on, my situation became extremely bad. No one knew how to help me. I was a very sensitive, depressed child with “trich.”

I had to continue to attend school and show my face to the other children. I had to show all my flaws, and I did not have the tools for it at that time. There was no way to disguise my imperfections, they were front and center. The problem was obvious to anyone who came in contact with me.

By not talking about it and dealing with it, no solution was being created, as it was evident that people were tip-toeing around me. I didn’t want to face my situation, and so I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. If anyone mentioned it or brought it up, I would immediately start crying. Frankly, I did not want to talk about it for 10 years. All these years, this was a trigger for me.

My parents didn’t know how to support me, aside from sending me to numerous therapists and doctors. I was so young, and I had seen so many of them. Eventually, I was even exorcised. Twice. The complete desperation from my parents to help me was intense. Frankly, it is because of them that I am still here and did not end my life. I prayed to die. I really did not feel like I belonged, not to this world. I did not feel I belonged on the planet.

Numbness can be Worse than Pain.

Psychologists didn’t help, Exorcism didn’t help. Psychiatry, well, it didn’t help. The medications numbed me to a point where there wasn't pain, but there was no joy either. I was a dead girl walking. I was 13 1/2 and I told my mom, “Either you stop the drugs or I will take them all at once." If I did not have any joy at all, there was no reason for being.

For my parents, this was an excruciating decision. They did not know if I would live without the drugs, and they knew I would not survive taking them. I could get worse and worse. They were out of solutions. To give a child the decision of her healthcare, especially being so young and so sick, was heart wrenching, but they had no other choice. This is when we ceased all treatments and all drugs.

I stayed depressed for a very long time. In my past, I always tried to understand my parents’ perspective. Frankly, I went to therapists for them, but I was not ready to be aware of what I had and how to treat it. I didn’t have the means to understand the depths of my pain and where it came from. Therapists tried to pin it on my parents. They tried to look for abuse. I pinned it on them at that time, too. This was not a case of bad parents or any kind of mistreatment. This was just who I was.

I was overly sensitive to criticism, and this is how I embarked into my teenage years. At this point, the relationship with my parents was completely absent. My father says that I used to live as if I was in a hotel. I came and went as I pleased. They mostly let me be. I was the youngest of four children and with experience from raising three “normal” teenagers, they knew they had to leave me alone.

Love is Hard. Love Helps.

At 15, I fell in love with a complicated boy. He was battling his own inner demons.  He corresponded the love, and he helped me get through my teenage years. We stayed together for a long time. We were everything to each other.

I must confess, it was the worst relationship ever because we were everything to each other:  mother, daughter, father, doctor, lover, confidant. We were all these roles in one person. He was it for me.

We lived intensely, and it was a risky lifestyle.  We got each other through high school and supported each other. We grew up together. With time, we made more friends. With time, things got better.

Taking Control

After I completed school, I was examining what I wanted to do with my life. At this time, I decided to go to therapy again. This was the first time I decided to go myself. I selected the therapist based on my own conditions. I was 21 years old, and I was ready to do the work.

I found a great therapist. She worked primarily with businesswomen. Her focus was to teach me how to live in the NOW, to be present and to live well and fully. She wanted me to stop focusing on the past and to stop fearing the future. Many of my anxieties were dealing with what was not here in the present; I was not living my now. She focused more on keeping my life on track for my future and talked about experiences. Instead of pinning guilt on parents, she was teaching me tactics.

Preparations for My Real Future

Depression steals your present. It is too heavy to carry, and the OCD makes you go over your past again and again. The fear of the future is paralyzing. It steals your life. The guidance I received from this therapist made improvements, and I stayed with her for 4.5 years. 

I quit my job and started to do the things I liked. I began going to the gym. I went on a transformational trip to Thailand, which was very beautiful and intense. I focused on doing things that were good for my body, soul, and spirit.

The Monster in the Mirror

Little by little, I began to see that there is a lot more to me than then the monster I saw in the mirror. Until this point in my life, I had no doubt I was a monster. It was all I could see in myself.

With tiny efforts, I started to love myself without knowing how but I did. There were things that were inside of me that were brighter. This light started to come out and was shining on my face.

This bright light became more and more intense. It was shining on my exterior so much that I actually started seeing beauty. I began to see what others had said so many times, which I had always believed with my heart and soul to be lies.  I had thought I was a monster for so long. I could not believe the new person I saw in the mirror. 

No More Hiding. Highlighting.

I became comfortable enough to play around with my look. While I was a teenager, I would use bandanas or hats to hide myself. I tied the bandanas so hard it hurt. Now I was using scarves, hats, and bandanas as a creative way to express myself; this was no longer to hide but rather highlight.

I was no longer being abused by what societal standards impose on us. I was giving myself my own touch and doing what I wanted, what made me happy. It was a vehicle for my creative soul.

I learned how to highlight my person, become inspired and learn from others. I took ideas from humans, nature, architecture, you name it! It became a game and when you become playful about your look you can find beauty in things that are odd about yourself. You don’t need to go back to that dark place. You don’t go there! You simply don’t go there.

Power of Music

Sometimes, I have insecurities and doubts. I make a lot of mistakes, and I have to deal with consequences. Sometimes I cry a lot:  I am very sensitive, I can cry watching anything, and I am really receptive to emotions. My life has changed completely:  the real bad thoughts, the suicidal thoughts, the monster thoughts are all gone. The sensation that my thoughts were against me is gone.

Music is the voice of my soul. I still sing and play, and I do so as I desire. Music is part of my echo system, without it I would probably die. I also write music, a beautiful way to let my inner-self have a voice. I connect with other musicians as well, because they express so many things that resonate through me. Music is something I am so grateful for, for the fact that I understand it on a higher level, that I can communicate through it. It soothes me. 

All those sensitive raw emotions are now used in the form of art:  from my look, my actions, my voice. This is me. The happy me.

My name is Sara Meucci, and I am Kintsugi.

To learn more about Sara follow her on Instagram @miss_swirl
To learn more about Trich click here 
From the Mayo Clinic Click Here

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Photo Credits:
Model: Sara Meucci @miss_swirl

Photographer: Mike Oliver @mikeost
Creative Director: Miriam Grunhaus @mikahfashion
Stylist: Anna Lavo @annalavostylist
Hair: Antony Payne @anthonypayne
Make up: Candice Rios @iamcandicerios